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The Montana Forest Products and O’Neil Family L.P. Receive the “Excellence in Forestry” Award (2010)

Garren and Sarah Hartman receive award on behalf of O'Neil FamilyThe Montana Forest Products and O’Neil Family L.P. were recently honored with the “Excellence in Forestry” award by Montana Society of American Foresters (SAF). The awards ceremony took place during a State SAF convention in Missoula with 120 foresters in attendance. The Excellence in Forestry Award was developed to recognize landowners or land managers who have worked towards advancing and improving the practice of forestry in Montana through collaborative and state of the art land management practices. Nominees must have a record of forest management that has left the forest in good or better condition than when they first acquired it. They must use science and experience based knowledge to implement timely management practices that have resulted in healthy productive forested acres. They must have a management plan that ensures a healthy and productive future forest condition. Management practices must balance conservation of forest processes, aesthetic beauty, wildlife habitat, and high water quality with extraction of forest products that benefit the economy. Forest management must provide innovative and adaptive management examples and records so that others may learn from them and advance the practice of forestry at the local level. The award also places emphasis on landowners / managers who provided a forest that benefits all aspects of the larger surrounding community through education, recreation, and better quality of life. Past recipients of this SAF award have been the Salish Kootenai Tribal Forestry and the F.H. Stoltze Land and Lumber Company.

SAF Awards Chair, Holly McKenzie, was proud to present this years award to Garren and Sarah Hartman who received the award on behalf of the O’Neil Family that manages the Montana Forest Products acreage. Both of the Hartmans help manage the families’ 6,000 acres of forestlands which have remained under this families’ thoughtful care for 5 generations. This sort of thing is rare in this day and age.

The history of the O’Neil Family Tree Farm and forestland has its roots in the northwest corner of Montana. In 1896, Charles O’Neil arrived in the Flathead Valley and established the O’Neil Lumber Company as a lumber retail yard. He invested in sawmills and timberlands as well. One of those early investments was the sawmill that became J. Neils Lumber in Libby, Montana.

In the mid 1940s, he formed the Forest Products Company with his family as shareholders (wife, 2 sons, and 2 daughters). In the mid 1960s the two brothers purchased Kal-Mont Lumber Company as a sister company to Forest Products. The two brothers continued to purchase and manage their timberlands until the death of one brother, Larry O’Neil. The mills were closed in 1981 with the timberlands being held by the families of the original two brothers.

In 1982, Chuck and Wynona and their 4 children formed Montana Forest Products Partnership which today, owns approximately 6,000 acres in Northwest Montana. Their lands have been under the Montana Tree Farm Program since 1944 and they are Tree Farm # 12 in the national System!!! The O’Neil Family Tree Farm has a certified Tree Farm management plan for their lands and they have sought professional forestry advice and management for the past 20 years through F.H. Stoltze Land and Lumber Company foresters.

There has been a sustainable and continual harvest on this land since the early 1930s which is a testament to the O’Neil family commitment to long term management as well as creating wildlife habitat, improved water quality, aesthetic areas. The area has been regenerated using natural and planted seedlings. All management is sensitive to community values since much of the land borders the Flathead Valley floor and is visible from the Valley.

The Montana State Society of American Foresters would like to thank the O’Neil family for their long history in quality management of their timberlands…….which is why we wish to honor them this year as they are very deserving of this “Excellence in Forestry” award !!!

The Society of American Foresters is a Professional organization with 13,000 plus members in various fields of forestry across the United States. SAF offers continuing education opportunities and certified forester programs for their members. They are also active in lobbying to promote active forest management to keep our economy strong and our forests healthy here in the United States. To learn more, log onto www.SAFnet.org or Montana Society of American Foresters to see our websites.

Press Release 2010